Memory of the Poor

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Feast of the nativity of Mary, Mother of the Lord. Today the Franciscan tradition remembers Francis’ visit of peace to Damietta to speak with the sultan Malek-al-Kamel. Prayer so that workers of peace and dialogue may arise

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 1, 1-16.18-23

Roll of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham:

Abraham fathered Isaac, Isaac fathered Jacob, Jacob fathered Judah and his brothers,

Judah fathered Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez fathered Hezron, Hezron fathered Ram,

Ram fathered Amminadab, Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon,

Salmon fathered Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz fathered Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed fathered Jesse;

and Jesse fathered King David. David fathered Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife,

Solomon fathered Rehoboam, Rehoboam fathered Abijah, Abijah fathered Asa,

Asa fathered Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat fathered Joram, Joram fathered Uzziah,

Uzziah fathered Jotham, Jotham fathered Ahaz, Ahaz fathered Hezekiah,

Hezekiah fathered Manasseh, Manasseh fathered Amon, Amon fathered Josiah;

and Josiah fathered Jechoniah and his brothers. Then the deportation to Babylon took place.

After the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah fathered Shealtiel, Shealtiel fathered Zerubbabel,

Zerubbabel fathered Abiud, Abiud fathered Eliakim, Eliakim fathered Azor,

Azor fathered Zadok, Zadok fathered Achim, Achim fathered Eliud,

Eliud fathered Eleazar, Eleazar fathered Matthan, Matthan fathered Jacob;

and Jacob fathered Joseph the husband of Mary; of her was born Jesus who is called Christ.

This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.

Her husband Joseph, being an upright man and wanting to spare her disgrace, decided to divorce her informally.

He had made up his mind to do this when suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit.

She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.'

Now all this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet:

Look! the virgin is with child and will give birth to a son whom they will call Immanuel, a name which means 'God-is-with-us'.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Churches of the East and West share the feast we celebrate today. September 8 marks the dedication of the Basilica of St. Anne in Jerusalem on the site where, according to tradition, lived Joachim and Anne, the parents of Mary. In the Byzantine Churches, Mary is spoken of as the “land of heaven,” referring to her womb that she offered to the Lord on behalf of all humanity. It is in this context that we must understand the two Gospel passages that we read: the genealogy of Jesus, which is then related to the following passage about Joseph’s perplexities. The list of the names means the waiting of all humanity for the birth of the Son of God. This is not a dry list. The list of names signifies that Jesus does not live outside of the history of men and women (and the evangelist intentionally includes pagans and less than exemplary women in the list). Jesus is in history; he is part of our generations. When the evangelist lists Jesus’ name, he writes it fully as “Jesus Christ”, meaning Jesus, the Messiah, the Saviour, and he then adds that he is the “son of David and son of Abraham” to show that he fully completes the revelation. The Messiah, in fact, must descend from David, who occupies the central place in the genealogy. The division of the genealogy into three parts, each consisting of fourteen names, a multiple of seven, is a sign of God’s providence that guides it and brings it to fulfilment. The memory of Abraham emphasizes that the gift of the Son is inscribed into the history of the people of Israel. In fact, Jesus was born to a Jewish woman, Mary, whom God chose as the mother of his Son. The Gospel then emphasizes that the birth of this child is in an extraordinary event, outside of the normal progression of generations. It is the birth of Jesus from a virgin, Mary. Joseph’s reaction, entirely justified from a human point of view, reveals his shock at what happened. But the angel in a dream reveals the mystery that is taking place and that Joseph can contemplate closely without taking part in it in a direct manner. Joseph, for his part, let the angel guide him, showing us that it is the Word of God that makes us see beyond what we see (this is the meaning of the “dream” in Scripture) so that we can take Mary (the community) and the mystery that she holds in her womb with us. Joseph welcomed God’s plan, and therefore, he enjoyed the closeness of the Son of God to whom, by order of the angel, he gave the name Jesus.